Deputy NSA N S Sandhu seems to differ from the central security forces deployed in Maoist-affected areas. At a seminar on Wednesday, he defended the use of “mine-protected vehicles” during operations. Sandhu said the MPVs should be used, after strictly adhering to the protocol regarding their usage. The CRPF has stopped using MPVs in Maoist-affected areas owing to their susceptibility to high casualties during IED blasts. There were instructions not to use the vehicles, often referred to as “moving coffins”, ahead of the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections. Sandhu said the deaths occur as these vehicles are overloaded and the personnel are not strapped to their seats, making them hit the metal roof of the vehicles during an IED explosion.
Madhusudan Mistry, senior Congress leader and former Lok Sabha MP who was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha, had to run around in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat on Wednesday to gain entry into the MPs’ gallery in the Upper House. Mistry, who has not yet taken oath as RS member, was stopped from entering the gallery by security staff who cited orders from “above”. He tried to reason that as a former MP, he was entitled to sit in the gallery. After meeting several officials, Mistry was finally told that the order had come from the Secretary General, who was said to have received a tip-off about the possibility of some ex-MP entering the House when it takes up the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Bill, 2014, for consideration and passage. Mistry had to knock on the Deputy Chairman’s doors before he was allowed to enter the MPs’ gallery.
Among the visitors at the Trinamool Congress’s party office on Wednesday was cinestar-turned-politician Jaya Prada. Since she has fallen out with the Samajwadi Party and is seeking a Congress ticket, her meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee created a buzz regarding her future move. The Rampur MP, however, clarified that she had come to discuss the Women’s Reservation Bill with the Trinamool Congress chief, who is on a three-day visit to Delhi.
Unlike previous sessions, BJP MPs attended two dinners in this farewell session of the 15th Lok Sabha. The first was last week, when Narendra Modi interacted with party MPs. And on Tuesday, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj hosted another dinner for party MPs. Nishikant Dubey and Arjun Meghwal had more reason to cheer as Swaraj praised them for their participation in debates, at the BJP parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday.
As the UPA government’s tenure comes to an end, bureaucrats with “connections” are pushing for good postings. Rajan Katoch, Director, Enforcement Directorate, who is related to a senior Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh, is likely to be made Secretary of Petroleum or Revenue. He is likely to be replaced by Pravir Kumar, who is related to a close aide of a senior Congress leader.
Shortly after the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Bill, 2014, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, as Congress president Sonia Gandhi left the House, many party MPs from Telangana surrounded her in the lobby and touched her feet. They told her they were going to celebrate. But Sonia said in a firm tone, “No, no… No celebrations. They (people in Seemandhara) are quite upset. You have to reach out to them. You should talk to them. No celebrations.” The Telangana MPs have since maintained a low profile, but celebrations are on, albeit quietly, away from the public glare.